Theory of Religion
Zone Books, 1989 - 126 páginas
Theory of Religion brings to philosophy what Georges Bataille's earlier book The Accursed Share brought to anthropology and history, namely, an analysis based on notions of excess and expenditure. No other work of Bataille's, and perhaps no other work anywhere since Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, has managed to draw so incisively the links between man's religious and economic activities.
"Religion," according to Bataille, "is the search for a lost intimacy." In a brilliant and tightly reasoned argument, he proceeds to develop a "general economy" of man's relation to this intimacy: from the seamless immanence of animality to the shattered world of objects and the partial, ritual recovery of the intimate order through the violence of the sacrifice. Bataille then reflects on the archaic festival, in which he sees not only the glorious affirmation of life through destructive consumption but also the seeds of another, more ominous order -- war.
Bataille then traces the rise of the modern military order, in which production ceases to be oriented toward the destruction of a surplus and violence is no longer deployed inwardly but is turned to the outside. In these twin developments one can see the origins of modern capitalism.
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If one describes the individual in the operation of sacrifice , he is defined by
anguish . But if sacrifice is distressing , the reason is that the individual takes part
in it . The individual identifies with the victim in the sudden movement that
restores it ...
He would have no anguish if he were not the individual ( the thing ) , and it is
essentially the fact of being an individual that fuels his anguish . It is in order to
satisfy the demands of the thing , it is insofar as the world of things has posited
It favors human life and not animality ; the resistance to immanence is what
regulates its resurgence , so poignant in tears and so strong in the unavowable
pleasure of anguish . But if man surrendered unreservedly to immanence , he